The seven-question survey included observations on whether "no smoking" signs were posted, if ashtrays and/or smoking paraphernalia were visible, whether smoking was permitted in the waiting area, outdoor seating area, or anywhere in the venue, and whether business managers, when appropriate, asked smokers to refrain from smoking. Information identifying the venue and the date and time of the observation was also collected.
The survey, which was completed by volunteers age 21 or older in 59 of Michigan's 83 counties, including Antrim, Charlevoix, Emmet, and Otsego, was conducted at 964 randomly selected restaurants, bars, and bowling alleys statewide. The observations were recorded unobtrusively within the selected venues. The Health Department of Northwest Michigan was one of the agencies that worked with volunteers who completed 36 surveys.
Statewide, 85% of surveyed establishments had visibly posted "no smoking" signs, as required by law, and nearly 96% of these establishments had removed ashtrays and smoking paraphernalia. Smoking was observed in 11% of outdoor seating areas and in 5% of waiting areas. There was no smoking observed in over 95% of the surveyed establishments.
According to Jean Chabut, Deputy Director of the Michigan Department of Community Health, overall compliance with the law is high. "Business owners and patrons are following the requirements of the law, and as a result, Michigan workers are protected from the harmful effects of secondhand smoke exposure," she said.
Lynne DeMoor, Coordinator of the local Tobacco Reduction Coalition, noted that the results from Antrim, Charlevoix, Emmet, and Otsego were similar to statewide findings: 74% of establishments had posted "no smoking" signs and 89% were completely smoke-free, she said.
Scott Kendzierksi, Director of Environmental Health, who oversees food service licensing, said that the restaurants, bars, and bowling alleys that received complaints to the Health Department have been quick to comply with the law. "It's been an educational process for many of our food establishments," he said. "Once they understood the law, they took the steps necessary to ensure they offer smoke-free environments for employees and customers."
Other restaurants are very happy to comply with the law. Sam Oliver from the Village Grill in Pellston said, "Now that we've gone smoke-free and I see how much cleaner the restaurant is, I wish I would have banned smoking here years ago." Greg Tanner from Teddy Griffin's Road House agrees. "Our customers are very happy with the smoke-free environment. It's the best thing we ever did."
The observational compliance check was conducted for a second time in November 2010--with results to be released soon--and will be conducted a third time in May 2011.
The Health Department of Northwest Michigan is mandated by the Michigan Public Health Code to promote wellness, prevent disease, provide quality healthcare, address health problems of vulnerable populations, and protect the environment for the residents and visitors of Antrim, Charlevoix, Emmet, and Otsego counties.For more information, visit www.nwhealth.org.